Wrestling Documentary Well Worth Checking Out

Hi Scott,
 
A fantastic documentary aired tonight in the UK on Channel 4 called The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family. It’s about a family who own a small wrestling promotion and academy.
 
The family’s daughter is FCW/NXT wrestler Paige, and shows her rise from wrestling in front of a few dozen people for her father’s promotion, to getting invited for a WWE trial all the way to moving out to the states and debuting in FCW. It also shows the family’s son and his struggle to achieve the same success as his sister. He has had a few WWE tryouts but was said to be underweight, although he did appear on Smackdown in a squash against Big Show.
 
It’s well worth watching and can be watched online at the following link:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-wrestlers-fighting-with-my-family/4od#3386001
Unsure if it can be accessed in Canada or US, if not its worth hunting for on youtube.

It cannot be accessed, sadly.  But I'll put it up for any viewers who can. Although the hilarious selection of other choices, like "My Daughter Is A Teenaged Nudist", make it seem like TLC reality series hell.  

Something to think about in wrestling

Imagine this
-The number one wrestling promotion on the planet is run by Vince McMahon. After a hearty boom period, the company tapered off a bit, and was then wrought by a major public scandal. Now the company has homogenized itself into an overly kid-friendly product, turning many older fans off.
-The number two company is just making headway with live TV, and is backed at the top by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. With a horde of young high flyers and an innovative approach to their TV product, there are a number of fans flocking to this company, which was once a laughingstock due to its prior poor booking.
-There is an outfit based out of Philadelphia involving Shane Douglas that promises an alternative to the "Big Two" by showcasing bloody brawls and unfiltered, hard hitting wrestling. After using some older, broken-down wrestlers as a draw early on, they've jettisoned much of that approach in favor of top-flight indy guys who can either still go, or are getting their first true taste of glory.
-There is a promotion run by Jim Cornette which favors an old-school style, with more wrestling than 'sports-entertainment', but they also have lost much of their best talent to McMahon's company, as well as the #2 company. Some believe they may be out of business before long.
Now I ask you, what year is this: 2012, or 1995?

A bit of a stretch in some ways, but yes, that's an interesting take on the situation.  I wouldn't say fans are "flocking" to TNA, though.  Thing is, as long as Spike is happy with the ratings (which they are), then it doesn't affect me as a fan because I know they're likely to stay the course.  WWE, on the other hand, is ratings-obsessed and as a viewer I'm constantly having to filter out the bullshit that I know is just for them pop a rating (like AJ teasing a wedding at the end of the show, or the constant commercial breaks interrupting matches.)  
But you know, in general, what they say about those who don't heed the lessons of history…

Minor Leagues in wrestling

For the first time, it truly seems like the concept of a farm system in wrestling is about to pay off.  Unlike the territory days, the wrestlers in FCW/NXT can develop their gimmick for as long as it takes, and won't have the agents tweaking/modifying the character (ex. Damien Sandow worked on his character for years, found one he's a natural at, and has exactly the same gimmick in WWE that he had 2 years ago in FCW).  Even now, if the WWE plucks a talent from ROH or TNA, they need to adjust the character and style into the WWE paradigm.
My questions are
1. As bad as the product has been on a general basis, do you feel good about the crop of rookies that will be on TV in the next year (Ambrose, Rollins, The Ascension, Kruger and Steamboat, to name a few)? 
2. Is the new NXT concept a good thing for the long term of wrestling, to expose fans to future stars long before a WWE run? (BTW, I assume the FCW titles will be integrated into NXT and possibly be rebranded). 

I'm not sure I agree entirely with your detective work there.
It's really, REALLY hard to say what will work in WWE as compared to what works in a very limited sample size like FCW, so saying Sandow found a gimmick that works is a bit of a faulty premise.  I mean, look at how different Cena and Batista ended up becoming once they moved past The Prototype and Leviathan.  The point of the developmental system is supposed to be to teach them how to work a match and cut promos, not come up with a character so that the creative team doesn't have to.  In theory you can always take a great wrestler and find them a character, whereas someone in a one-note gimmick is generally going to have a short shelf-life.  Undertaker excepted, of course.
On with the numbered questions…
1.  Never seen Ambrose work before, but Rollins was a good worker in ROH and he looked good on NXT last week.  The Ascension has an awesome entrance, but they need gimmick names instead of Reilly O'Kyle and Kyle O'Reilly or whatever they are now.  I wish Krueger would cut his damn hair, but he's a got a good look and I think he'll be a star.  I certainly don't credit FCW for anything with Rollins or Cesaro, though, because they came fully formed from ROH anyway.  
2.  I really like the NXT concept like this because no one is basically watching, so they can do whatever they want and develop as they need, but at the same time they get a taste of doing TV tapings and can slowly mix into the main card as needed.  

Wrestling with Rosenberg

Hi Scott,
Not sure if you/your readers are aware of the Wrestling with Rosenberg series on YouTube. Rosenberg is primarily a hip hop DJ but is a big time and long time pro wrestling fan. He has some great interviews with Hulk Hogan, HBK, CM Punk and most recently an awesome talk with Daniel Bryan. Here are the links:
Daniel Bryan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7A0SfjIAsU
CM Punk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ik6VvbXND8
Hulk Hogan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWV69vroavs
HBK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SN5q70T9Pw
Chris Jericho
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvrQZ9-dn4E&feature=relmfu
The Miz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0Hskkgn-dc&feature=relmfu
You're welcome.


Hey, I didn't even say thank you!

Joe Gagne Reviews Virtual Pro Wrestling 64!

I had heard about this game (VPW2 mainly) via my wrestling nerd friends and RSPW, but of course never had the opportunity to play it myself.  Now I wish I did still have my N64 and a converter, because I’d probably spend the next few months in a state of perpetual nerdgasm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHM1o3fhOZ8
Wrapping up the THQ/AKI series.  Thanks for all the support.

Thanks for the awesome video reviews, Joe!

Impact Wrestling

Scott,
 
I finally got around to watching Impact today, and agreed that the reality-show type segment was a nice change of pace. And I got to thinking… what if they took it further, and turned Impact into a fake-reality show about producing Impact Wrestling?
 
"The show" would always be in kayfabe and never acknowledge the fake-reality stuff. And "backstage", friends are enemies and enemies are friends. The faces care about the wrestling and the company, the heels don't care if they legit hurt guys and are always checking their messages to see if "Hollywood" has called yet. We'll hear discussion about how the match we haven't we haven't seen yet is going to end.
 
The interesting thing of the experiment would be how the fans in the arena react… if, for example, they take the guy who's the biggest dick "backstage" and push him as the hero of The Show, would the fans boo him because they he's really a dick, or would they play along and cheer him wildly? Either way, you've got story fodder, because the cheers could change his outlook or could make him a bigger dick, or you've got the producers trying to figure out or make excuses about why everyone is booing their hero.
 
However, the more I think about it, the more I realize it would take a brilliant kind of writer to keep the show feeling balanced and not abuse the plot device of characters "going off script" during The Show. It's probably too ambitious an undertaking, but I doubt TNA has anything to lose at this point.

Very interesting idea.  Obviously the business needs some sort of evolution in the basic presentation, and the "show about the show" thing has been successful in other mediums, like 30 Rock most famously.  I'd definitely say it's worth a try.  

Wrestling forums

Hey Scott,
I know you were a big poster on RSPW back in the day, if you're interested in getting back in the posting game, I'd like to suggest 420Chan's /wooo/ board. I've seen enough posts from RSPW that I think this is pretty similar in general atmosphere, don't let the "chan" or "420" part of the name scare you away, /wooo/ is by far the most active board on the site and the vast majority of the population cares little about stoner activities and the like.
Stop on by and have a look, we'd love to have you as a regular!! The mods are pretty fantastic at cleaning up the crap and the userbase isn't awful stereotypical Youtube smarks, we also have streams almost every day for general old wrassling (I watched a stream of Wrestle War 89 with about 20 others just the other day, shit was awesome) and an IRC to have live chats during PPVs and shows.
http://boards.420chan.org/wooo/index.php

Not to cast aspersions on the quality of the forums, but that layout makes my eyes melt out of my face like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I think I'll stick with my own blog where I control all the content and don't have to put up with annoying animated GIFs, but I'll throw a plug your way if it'll help you out.  

Plug request: New Wrestling Themed Horror Anthology Open for Submissions

Hi Scott,
Thanks for plugging our 100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye anthology some time ago.
Our new project, currently open of fiction submissions, is a subject very dear to our hearts and, we're sure, those of your readers – a wrestling-themed horror anthology. Would you mind posting a link to our submission guidelines, in case any of your readers are interested in submitting a story?
http://cruentuslibri.wordpress.com/anthology-submissions/open-to-submissions/lucha-gore-scares-from-the-squared-circle/
Many thanks,
Kevin G. Bufton
Cruentus Libri Press

Hope it helps!

Legends of Wrestling: Factions

I haven’t done one of these in a minute and it’s a good time to knock one out before a PPV.

Obviously the topic of this show is about the factions, stables, regimes, cliques, factgimes, alliances, corporations, unions, armies and cartels that made wrestling great for so many years.

Enjoy.

Legends of Wrestling: Factions

Hosted by Gene Okerlund and the panel is: Tazz, Jim Ross, Mick Foley and….Ric Flair (this should be fun). Okerlund quickly teases Mick for his attire today.

JR defines a faction as three or more individuals that hang around long enough to get credibility and crowd identity.

Flair calls the Horsemen a faction and says within that there were two groups of Horseman that really defined that (I’d say three groups with Ole, Luger and Windham being the fourths…funny thing is everyone considers the Flair/Blanchard/AA/Windham version the best of the bunch but when they speak of that second group you are never sure if it’s Ole or Luger since both men have an equal share of detractors.) Mick jumps in with the mandatory Paul Roma quip and Flair says, no, neither he nor Sid Vicious were Horsemen. Fair enough.

Mick’s history in Factions started with Skandar Akbar’s Devastation Inc., which he described as a revolving faction because they had rotating members and were used to give a new guy instant credibility. Flair quickly disagrees and says DI was a ‘stable’. Foley mentions he was in Robert Fuller’s Stud Stable.

Tazz says the major faction in ECW was The Triple Threat. They were over and people hated them and they were the guys to get over. He mentions the bWo as a comedy Faction and Flair quickly shits on Douglass by saying he works at Wal-Mart (after last night’s debacle I’m hoping he didn’t quit). Tazz acknowledges that Douglass hasn’t always been nice to Flair.

Okerlund talks about the “Faction fueds” and mentions the Survivor Series and War Games. Ross wonders why the WWE hasn’t started using the War Games concept (you and I both, buddy). He talks about the heels always winning the coin toss. Ross says it was a great way to blow off a storyline and there was great TV leading up to it.

(Clip of Road Warrior Hawk cutting a pre-War Games promo. I loved his promos back in the day.)

And the cast of characters talk about the Match Beyond…We’ve got Michael Hayes, Triple H and Dusty (of course, it was his idea or at least he takes credit for it). Dusty goes into describing the psychology of the match, which as Scott put it, when the heels had the advantage it was gloom and doom for the faces but the minute the sides were even the faces dominated so the heat segments were all two minutes followed by awesome comebacks. Dusty talks about how Arn Anderson’s ability to work the match from beginning to end was a major reason for the success. Paul Ellering adds in some comments of his own.

Ross says the WWE is missing the boat by not having a strong faction and says that all the successful factions could spin out a star.

Foley talks about when The Rock joined the Nation and that gave him the platform to refine his skills and take off into the stratosphere. They follow with a clip of Rock running down the nWo at No Way Out 2002 for no other reason than it’s still very funny.

Back to the Horsemen, Flair said the genius behind the group was there were four guys that could wrestle and talk and celebrated excess. Ross says it was the natural chemistry that separated them from the pack. That chemistry was consistent in and out of the ring. The more short-term factions were ones that were only together for TV.

Tazz asks Flair who are the REAL four Horsemen and Flair says the Windham group was the best. Ole was great but he drifted off for a while. Flair talks about that group as being ultra-competitive among each other and quietly challenged each other to have the best match.

Mick says the most memorable faction in his mind was the nWo. Mick said they forced the WWE to get better and to change their ways. Mick talked about a backstage meeting where Vince admitted that his ideas might not be cutting it in 1997 and encouraged guys to inject more of their own personalities like Steve Austin did. Mick said eventually the group outlived its usefulness but for a few moments it was magic. Mick said the fans miss those interview segments when a group like the Horseman would speak about their matches for 6-7 minutes and could get fans excited about three different programs. That’s a great point.

Flair said the nWo was created in Japan and Bischoff took credit for. In his words it was compiled of average and slightly above-average talent and they were put over everyone on the roster every night. Flair said the Horsemen never won anything but that didn’t change their direction (actually they won War Games 1991). His point was the Horseman made their progress through interviews and talking points but the nWo had to beat everyone to stay credible and eventually it destroyed the company.

Tazz’s favorite faction was The Varsity Club. Interesting. He wasn’t sure how Kevin fit in with these great college athletes but it worked and of course it begat the Steiner Brothers so new stars were made.

(There’s a clip of a strange but funny interview between Magnum T.A. and Rick Steiner)

Ross talks about the vignette of Steiner going on his first date but they DON’T MENTION WHO IT’S WITH (It was with a young lady named ‘Woman’, also known as Nancy Sullivan and later Nancy Benoit).

Ross goes back into the Horsemen and talks about how they did have to wrestle a lot of different people and adjust their style. He talks about Arn and Tully having a great series with the Midnight Express in matches that will never be seen.

But Ross loves the original DX and of course Triple H spun out of that group and became a mega star. In it’s origin Shawn Michaels was the star of the group and eventually guys like the New Aged Outlaws became stars because they were able to show their personality.

(Clip of DX doing their parody of The Nation in 1998. Funny stuff.)

Flair talks about Evolution and said if he were 35 they would still be together. Flair said he couldn’t afford to eat with Hunter or party like Batista and Orton liked to. Flair said the key to the success of those factions was when they dispersed they were just as successful individually. Flair said if the Horseman were in WWF it would have been even greater. He said he ran the Horseman on his budget. In the WWF he would have had Vince’s budget and better production.

Ross goes to the Brood, which of course spawned Edge and Christian. They weren’t main eventers together but they got a ton of TV time. Mick said that Gangrel was supposed to be the star of the Brood but he couldn’t talk and when Edge got the change to grab the stick during one of the Gangrel’s bumbling sessions he took over the reins and eventually became the star.

Okerlund says one of the worst factions he can remember were the West Texas Rednecks. Which I totally disagree with because Perfect somehow made it work.

Mick talks about the various forms of The Dungeon of Doom and that it was basically a group of Hogan’s friends like Ed Leslie and John Tenta all banded against him. Mick says the worst faction he was part of was “The Union” which was a very very very short-lived grouping of him, Shamrock, Test, Big Show and Vince McMahon (the clip of them walking to the rest, with Test wearing a FUBU jersey is fucking hilarious). Mick says that his contract specifically states that The Union was a WWE properly.

Tazz says his worst group was “The Cabinet” with JBL and Orlando Jordan and Amy Weber. He said it just didn’t work.

Flair says the nWo was the worst faction and the worst thing that happened to the business. WHAT?!?!?! Give me a fucking break. Ask any of the boys about their financial records pre-nWo and then what it was during the nWo and come back to me. Flair still blames the nWo for the destruction of the business due to the selfish nature of the participants, which I can agree with, but I can’t blame the nWo for the end of the business but rather a poorly run company that didn’t respond well when the WWF regained its footing. The goal of the business is to provide an entertaining product and make money for the company and the workers, the nWo did that pretty well for a couple of years.

Ross has three – The No-Limit Soldiers (Ouch), Tazz and Foley can’t help but laugh as Ross rips this group. The Oddities, which spun from the Howard Stern stuff but Tazz says the Oddities was at least entertaining (man John Tenta is taking a beating on this show) and JR’s final group was The Spirit Squad. Foley liked them (I liked them too in a campy way) but Ross said they were comedians. Flair says they were too young and immature but they wanted to be there and tried their hardest. Foley wonders why they were disbanded so quickly. Ross just said they weren’t at the level of the guys they were booked to wrestle with (well no shit, they were booked with DX and Flair). But Flair said they wanted to learn and get better and got cut off a little early (Ironically it was supposed to be a vehicle for Kenny to emerge as a big star but it turned out Nicky was the guy who took the ball and ran with it as Dolph Ziggler). Probably the highlight discussion of this episode so far.

(Clips of a DX/Flair vs. Spirit Squad match on RAW)

Flair relays a story about Horseman shenanigans from The Crockett Cup. Typical stuff, if you’ve heard one Horseman story you’ve pretty much heard them all.

Ross has a story of he and Flair drinking prior to a flight to Charleston, West Virginia and the flight attendant in first class is flirting with them (mostly Flair since Ross is drunk) but near the end Ross and the attendant exchange information and she ends up becoming Ross’ wife.

Tazz tells a story about hearing stories about Flair and his antics in hotel lobbies.

Okerlund wants top three factions:

Foley: Varsity Club and he clowns on Rotunda going from Varsity Club captain to “Sailor” captain Mikey. Ross says you didn’t want to screw with the Varsity Club because Steiner, Rotunda and Dr. Death could hurt you. Foley also mentions Hot Stuff & Hyatt International and of course the Horseman.

Flair says Horseman, Freebirds and Evolution. He goes into the Freebirds and just says they were one of the greatest, more entertaining groups ever. Foley mentions the WWE World Class DVD and the far better independent one and says how it gave him such an appreciation for Buddy Roberts. Flair said Roberts had a great head for the business.

(Clip of a Freebirds promo in WCCW).

Tazz said the Freebirds were innovators. Flair says he believes Michael Hayes and Cher were an item for a while. Flair says the entrance music branded Dallas as the territory that came up with the entrance music first.

Tazz’s list is Freebirds, The Original DX and the Horseman. Tazz admits to Flair he wanted to be a Horseman but they would never have a Horseman from Brooklyn.

JR’s list is Horsemen and the 1997 Hart Foundation, he talks about the atmosphere at the Canadian Stampede and how it such a incredible event.

(Clips of the 10-man tag from that card with Austin having an amazing performance, one of the best in his career in my opinion. He fed more off that crowd than the Harts.)

JR’s final one is the original DX and he liked them because of the end result with Triple H becoming the big star and then later making stars out of the New Age Outlaws when that wasn’t the original plan.

And they pretty much close after that.

The Bottom Line: I’d go out of my way for any of these because they are all very good in their own way but this one is on the lower scale of the roundtables.

Impact Wrestling – February 2, 2012

Impact Wrestling
Date: February 2, 2012
Location: Wembley Arena, London, England
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tazz

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Michael is still having issues so I’m here another week.

I was going to make a bunch of jokes about being in England tonight but I’ll try to find something funny to say instead. We have two shows in London before heading back to Orlando for Against All Odds on the 12th. I don’t think many matches have been announced officially yet but for the most part you can guess a lot of them which is fine. These shows outside of the Impact Zone are always interesting, so let’s get to it.

We open with a video of the fans who talk about how awesome wrestling is.

Hogan will be back tonight.

Roode and Ray open the show. The place looks great. Ray talks about how the fans aren’t going to see Hardy tonight because they took care of him last week. I think that was done because Hardy has visa issues due to the legal history. Roode says it’s great to be back in Ireland. He insists it’s not them that sucks and praises himself and Ray. I think the fans are chanting for D-Von.

Roode calls out Storm and here’s the Cowboy. Ray gets between them and there’s Sting’s music. The ring looks a lot smaller than usual. Sting says he talked to Hardy yesterday and Jeff will be back at Against All Odds. Sting announces the four way main event that I think we all knew was coming for the title at the PPV. As for tonight, Storm gets both of them in singles matches.

Garrett calls his trainer who will be here tonight.

Samoa Joe/Magnus vs. Crimson/Matt Morgan

Non-title here and it’s a Buckingham Brawl which is a new twist on things: there’s a coin flip to start and the winners get to be in the ring without having to tag, meaning it’s a handicap match in a way. Crimson starts and the numbers game starts up quick. The non-champions dominate for the opening minutes with a power/speed combination.

They set for their double team combination out of the corner but Crimson takes Joe down and Magnus jumps into a suplex. Hot tag brings in Morgan and everything breaks down. Crimson is sent to the floor and the Carbon Footprint misses in the corner. That allows Joe and Magnus to hit their finishing sequence on Morgan and the middle rope elbow gets the pin at 3:56.

Rating: C. Quick match but this was a good way to let Magnus/Joe get one up on the champs. Crimson and Morgan have beaten them I think twice now so why should we buy them having a real chance again? The rule twist was a nice addition and it lets the champs save some face. Decent match and the crowd was way into it.

Eric Bischoff is here.

Here’s Eric in the ring. A kid flips him off at ringside. Eric says he thought the British people were civilized. He says he’s here to burst the bubble of Garrett with a little dose of reality. Eric asks Garrett to come to the ring and then demands it. The arena is a very different setup as the entrance is on the hard camera side, making it almost like the old MSG setup for those of you familiar with it.

Garrett gets here and Eric tells him that no matter who is training him (remember that Eric knows who it is) it’s not going to matter because Garrett is never going to be good enough. Garrett asks why Eric doesn’t take it up with the trainer and Eric says that the trainer will never be here. The trainer (presumably) calls Garrett and Garrett doesn’t look that pleased. The trainer is here tonight and wants to speak with Eric.

Mark Haskins, a British guy that was in some X-Division series that was put on last year, talks about how he’s here to do whatever it takes to win. He says he’ll win the title.

Mark Haskins vs. Austin Aries

This is non-title I believe. The entire front row has its back to the ring for somer eason. Aries takes him to the mat and the fans still like Aries more than the hometown boy. Haskins is sent over the top but he skins the cat into a headscissors to take over. Aries skins the cat as well but Haskins dropkicks him down. Haskins sets for a plancha but Aries slides in. A springboard attempt is countered, resulting in Haskins being crotched.

A top rope shot to the floor takes him down even more and the fans are all for Aries. Back in and Haskins gets crotched again. A low dropkick misses and Haskins starts his comeback. A monkey flip puts Aries down but a second is countered. Haskins nips up and runs the ropes for a springboard crossbody. A cutter gets two on the champ.

Haskins goes up for a Shooting Star and lands Lesnar style, landing right on his head. Since he’s pretty much dead, Aries hits the brainbuster and holds onto him, flipping over to hook kind of a dragon sleeper hold but with Aries behind and under Haskins and pulling back on him for the tap at 4:45.

Rating: C+. Aside from the near neck breaking botch, this was a fun match. Haskins is fast but you would think he would get cheered in his hometown. I don’t know if that’s more praise for Aries or a bad thing about Haskins, although I’m leaning towards the former more than the latter. Good match though.

Eric Bischoff is yelling on the phone about getting a cab and Sting comes to bring him back inside.

James Storm vs. Bobby Roode

Feeling out process to start and Storm takes over. He takes Roode to the mat but the champ heads to the floor to avoid a Last Call. We take a break and come back with Storm hitting a facebuster but walking into a clothesline. There’s going to be a Star Wars Special next week. As long as it’s not the Holiday Special I’m all good with that. Spinebuster gets two. Storm comes back and they slug it out.

Roode goes up top but Storm gets in a big right hand to slow him down. Storm’s trunks have something that looks like the Brahma Bull on it. Storm snaps off a rana to send both guys down. Storm starts his real comeback and hits a Backstabber for no cover. Top rope elbow gets two.

Russian legsweep by Storm is countered into the Crossface but Storm rolls into the ropes. Roode sets for the Payoff but Storm counters into the Eye of the Storm but Roode counters as well. There’s the Payoff but it only gets two. Storm comes back with a Codebreaker to avoid a belt shot. He loads up the Last call but here’s Ray to break it up. That opening allows Roode to spear Storm for the pin at 13:50.

Rating: B-. If I never see another spear it’ll be too soon. This was a good match between two guys that should be facing each other for the title in a big time PPV program but that spot goes to Hardy because Storm never got high during a PPV and made the company look like a joke. Quite a good TV match though.

Post match Ray gives Storm a Rock Bottom onto the title belt. Sting makes the save.

Tara vs. Gail Kim

Tara is #1 contender but from what I can tell, this is non-title. Tara takes over to start and strips her top off for the standing moonsault. Gail takes over with some choking and a knee to the back for two. She hooks a leg lock by bending Tara’s leg over Gail’s neck then a clothesline gets two.

Mike thinks if Tara beats Gail here, it might be an advantage for her going into the rematch at the PPV. A missile dropkick misses for Gail and Tara hammers away. Powerslam (called a snap slam by Tenay) gets two but Rayne runs in for the…not DQ. She ran into Gail but it doesn’t count for some reason. Widow’s Peak ends this at 4:57.

Rating: C-. The match was ok but I really don’t get the theory here. What purpose did this serve? Why not have Rayne take the loss here rather than giving us the match ten days before its on PPV? I really don’t get this company’s thinking at times but then again, why bother trying to get people to buy the TV show when you can give the matches away for free?

Here’s Garrett to reveal the trainer but Eric comes out with Gunner. Eric talks some trash and to not a ton of shock, Hogan is the trainer. The fans of course love him because he’s an old school guy and if you’re loved once, you’re always loved. Hogan and Garrett beat Gunner up for a bit while Eric stands there. Gunner is knocked to the floor and Eric is terrified and runs. Of all the people that Hogan could give a rub to, they picked Garrett Bischoff?

Hogan and Garrett talk about how they’re coming for Eric.

Bully Ray vs. James Storm

This is Storm’s second match of the night and he has bad ribs. Ray works on the injury with some hard shots before draping Storm over the top. Off to a camel clutch for a few moments and then a slam. Here comes Roode and we take a break. Back with Sting coming to the ring with a cricket bat and Ray holding Storm in a bearhug.

Ray lets that go and hits a big boot followed by some elbow drops for two. A splash gets the same. The middle rope backsplash misses and Storm starts his comeback. He wins a nice countering sequence on the apron and a middle rope cross body gets two. Ray tries to grab Storm but gets knocked into the referee. Sting chases Roode out of the ring and the Last Call beats Ray clean at 14:00.

Rating: C+. Not as good as earlier but it was nice to see someone using basic psychology here like Ray was doing. Storm getting a win keeps him strong which is something he needed going into the PPV. Not a great match or anything but Ray has really impressed me in his singles run.

Overall Rating: B. This was pretty good here as the pretty strong string of non-Orlando shows continues. This moved us towards the PPV and gave us a big development in the Bischoff feud. Now if you don’t care for the Bischoff feud or the main event, this wasn’t the show for you because that was the majority of the focus tonight. Hogan being back isn’t a bad thing but hopefully he actually gives someone a rub for a change. That talk of a Star Wars show next week though scares me.

Results
Magnus/Samoa Joe b. Crimson/Matt Morgan – Middle rope elbow to Morgan
Austin Aries b. Mark Haskins – Reverse Dragon Sleeper
Bobby Roode b. James Storm – Spear
Tara b. Gail Kim – Widow’s Peak
James Storm b. Bully Ray – Last Call

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